This isn’t something you read on a lazy Sunday morning. Which is something I unfortunately did, so it left me in a thinking mood, and I’m not prepared for this on a weekend. But on a serious note, it was a great novel and I highly recommend it.
In terms of the writing, I liked the epistolary style. You can tell so much more about the characters and their relationships with each other when everything is being shown instead of told. For example, Nettie and Celie’s education levels are really apparent in their letters to each other and what they’ve experienced in life in general. We don’t even have to know that Nettie had been dealt a better hand before she tells Celie her life story; it’s immediately apparent from the usage of correct grammar and the lack of pidgin English.
And it was particularly confronting to see Celie address Nettie instead of God in her diary when she discovers her family history and subsequently loses faith in her Christian belief. Walker could have had Celie write about how God deserted her and how angry she was (which she did) but the mere act of referring to her beloved sister instead of a higher being spoke volumes about Celie and Nettie’s relationship and how their love and faith for each other can stand the test of time.
And the epistolary writing makes it much easier to go in-depth on the subtext of the multiple themes which is helpful given the nature of the themes, which include, but not limited to, rural poverty, domestic violence, sexual assault, segregation, and African American issues. Walker assesses them all with unflinching honesty; within the first page, we see Celie writing about being raped by her father and life for her gets progressively worse.
‘The Colour Purple’ was very thought-provoking and reading this reminded me of one of the best things about reading: being exposed to different ideas and changing my perception of the world and its history, and coming to appreciate my own socio-economic standing.
On Another Note
I’d like to be able to read more books about women of colour and from an LGBTQ written by women of colour and/or of LGBTQ orientation (wow, that was the most politically correct left-wing sentence I’ve ever written). As an Australian, our exposure to African-American issue is limited at best, but we shouldn’t be ignorant of black issues given our controversial Aboriginal Australian history.